How energy efficiency can help us decarbonize and move back Earth Overshoot Day
On July 29, we officially overconsume the planet’s natural resources for the year. Known as Earth Overshoot Day, this date is a reminder that our planet is living on borrowed time – unless we all take action. Reducing our carbon footprint is one of the most effective ways to move back the date of Earth Overshoot Day, and greater energy efficiency is crucial for achieving this.
Save energy, save the planet
According to the Global Footprint Network, we can move Earth Overshoot Day back by 93 days – more than three months – if we manage to reduce the carbon component of humanity’s ecological footprint by 50%. One of the major contributors to carbon emissions is heating and cooling in buildings and industry, which accounts for half of the energy consumed in the EU, making it the biggest energy end-use sector ahead of both transport and electricity. Furthermore, heating and hot water alone account for 79% of total final energy consumption in EU households. It is therefore essential to optimize our use of heating and cooling if we want to decarbonize.
There are many ways to achieve greater energy efficiency, including actions that have an almost immediate effect. As individual consumers, we can all make efforts to reduce our consumption of energy through small gestures like switching to more efficient light bulbs or upgrading the insulation of our windows. We can also change our heating behaviour by optimizing the settings on our heating system or eliminating wasteful habits like leaving windows open. Every initiative counts if we all work together in the same direction.
But reducing consumer demand is just one part of the equation. By improving efficiency in the supply and distribution of energy, we can make even greater gains in carbon reduction.
The key to creating sustainability in existing heating and cooling networks is information. If utilities know what is happening across their network, they can quickly identify areas for improvement – and that’s where smart metering has an essential role to play.
At Diehl Metering, our SHARKY energy meters allow utilities to gather valuable meter data, including energy consumption, forward and return temperatures, flow rates and current output. In a fixed network, these readings are automatically taken on a regular basis for intelligent analysis by our IZAR data management software. The results are presented in an easy-to-read dashboard, empowering utilities to identify issues and rapidly address them to improve network efficiency.
Through such solutions, we have already enabled many communities to benefit from increased energy efficiency. For over a decade, we have worked with Izmir Jeotermal, which operates one of the world’s largest geothermal district heating networks, to enable network optimization. In Denmark, a network modernization enabled the district heating company Støvring Kraftvarmeværk to cut CO2 emissions by 80%.
Furthermore, utilities can involve consumers in saving energy. The Danish district heating and water supplier Brønderslev Forsyning uses our innovative smartphone app IZAR@HOME to empower its customers to follow their consumption patterns and change their habits to further increase network efficiency.
By making their networks more intelligent, utilities can thus realize significant energy savings. While these solutions enable relatively rapid efficiency gains, the long-term vision for decarbonization in the energy sector must give pride of place to district heating and cooling.
District heating, which consists of generating heat in a central location and distributing it through a pipe circuit to buildings, is well-adapted to renewable energy. It must therefore be more widely adopted if we are to further delay Earth Overshoot Day.
Ultimately, every contribution helps to move the date of Earth Overshoot Day, and we can all play our part, whether that is through small gestures in our homes or smart solutions for an entire energy distribution network.